A privacy group has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Samsung out of concerns the electronics giant's Smart TVs are eavesdropping on their owners' private conversations.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the commission on Tuesday, charging that the Korean electronics giant's use of voice-recognition technology violates federal communication privacy law. The complaint highlights the delicate balance consumer tech companies must strike when introducing new products that incorporate voice, gesture and other commands.
"Samsung routinely intercepts and records the private communications of consumers in their homes," EPIC said in its 20-page complaint (PDF). "Samsung's attempts to disclaim its intrusive surveillance activities by means of a 'privacy notice' do not diminish the harm to American consumers."
Samsung representatives did not respond to a request for comment on the complaint.
In an earlier statement to CNET, a Samsung spokeswoman said, "Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers' personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use."
The voice-recognition feature in question is available on only a small number of Samsung Smart TVs. The models that can recognize your voice are the ones that include a built-in camera and microphone, such as the. While most of Samsung's Smart TVs have some sort of voice function, almost all of them require users to press the microphone button on the remote before it starts listening.
Many devices on the market today have similar speech features that are always listening; that includes the Amazon Echo, and even the (when the device is plugged in and the Hey, Siri command is enabled)., Nexus devices,
Samsung and the FTC did not immediately return a request for comment.